Byron Earnest

ByronEarnest   Byron Earnest was raised in a Catholic family. In fact, his uncle is a Monsignor and Byron served as an altar boy during his youth. This devout, generational Catholic family background did not prevent his parents from divorcing when he was four years old. When Byron was fifteen years old, he went to live with his father, who was supposed to pay for his college education. However, he was told that he was not college material, and that he should work with his hands, learn a trade and follow in his father’s footsteps.

   After coming to the saving knowledge of Jesus Christ in his late teens, Byron realized that it’s not important what people say about you, but what really matters is what God says about you. He believed that God had a better plan for him. In 1996, he went to work at Microsoft, eventually becoming an IT professional and working his way into IT Management with several prominent companies. Byron’s background is now worship leader, musician, and song writer. In 2015, a health emergency caused him to see more clearly, God’s desire to shine through us in everyday life.

Testimony

   I believe that our testimony is something we need to keep close to our hearts because it helps other people who go through the things that we have gone through. I started (my spiritual journey) way back when I believed that God had called me when I was a young boy, and as Jim was saying, my Uncle is not just a priest, but he's a Monsignor, and he has greatly impacted my life.

   I had a very strong Catholic background. I was an altar boy when I was eleven or twelve years old. And, I believed when I was growing up as a young boy that I was going to be a priest someday. I looked up to my uncle. I just thought so much of him. So, I felt like there was a calling of some kind going on in my life. Not sure what it was. I didn't know Jesus yet. Okay? Yeah. So, people would say, "Why? You are a Catholic and you didn't know Jesus?" Well, I knew Jesus, just like I knew Mary, and I knew Joseph. I knew St. Christopher, St. Jude, I mean, I knew them all! But, did it really impact my life? Oh, I honored... I loved going to a Catholic church, it had such reverence in it. And I loved going in there because I knew I was safe. I was safe when I walked in through those doors. So, don't get me wrong. There's a lot of respect and a lot of honor of Jesus in the Catholic Church.

   But for me personally, it did not impact my life, other than I thought I was being called for something. However, as I grew up with an alcoholic mother for years and years, I always kept on going to church. I had a single mom and my dad left when I was about four, so it was tough. It was tough, living in Oak Cliff. I mean, (Aaron) would know there, right?

   I grew up in Oak Cliff, walked the streets as a kid, and learned how to live the life that I could with basically nothing, living off of welfare and homemade candy, and a lot of cheese and butter, and everything else that goes along with that. But, being raised in the Catholic Church, I believe that was a part of God's plan. There was this part of me that wanted me to be in the Catholic Church because that sheltered me, sheltered me for years. God kept me involved. He knew that they would protect me. So, you know, I was very involved at St. James ‘and Blessed Sacrament growing up.

   And then as I got older, I moved to DeSoto, Texas in 1976, to live with my dad. I hadn't seen my dad for 11 years. He agreed to go ahead and bring me in to his house. He was going to send me to college, get me a car, and I was going to be successful. Right? Wrong. It didn't work that way. So, the way it worked out is this. As soon as he stopped buying groceries for me, when I turned 18, I was gone. I was out of there. This was not the life for me. I didn't find anything fulfilling living at home. I felt like this is the time for me to get out.

    But those were tough teenage years; those were hard. Those are years can be very hard if you didn't know Jesus, because you’re all alone. When the bully comes upon you, it's you and him. It's who can run the fastest, right?

   And that's what I dealt with in high school. I played football, played in the band, stuff like that. But I didn't know who I was. Then, in 1979, March the 24th, about 6:00 PM, I was going to end my life. I said, "This is it. I don't need this anymore." And my mother, who had been an alcoholic for many years, fell into the charismatic Catholic movement back in the late 70’s and 80’s. I don't know if you guys were aware of that movement. They were speaking in tongues, praising the Lord, right there in the Catholic Church. But they had their own little area where they could do that. So, my mom got saved a few years before me, and God had a plan. This was going to happen, and this is how it was going to come about.

   And, so, at the time in my life when I was distraught and at the bottom, what happened one day while at my Mom’s house... I don't really want to go into the details, but I had decided that I wasn’t going to live the next day. Mom was there, and she led me through the sinner's prayer on a Saturday night, March 24, 1979, and I had a vision. I didn't even know what a vision was, but I had a vision of an eagle. I had a vision of the Liberty Bell. I had all kinds of visions and joy that I'd never experienced in my life and it was an instant change, an instant change in me. I felt like I could conquer the world. And the next day, I said, "I've got to go to church." My Mom was going to Beverly Hills Baptist Church at the time, near the Bronco Bowl in Oak Cliff. Anybody been there?

   Okay. Larry Lee, Howard Connatser, Sonny Connatser, all those folks were there. I went down, and I ran down to the altar. This is a boy from the Catholic Church! We were very quiet Catholics! We went by the book. And, I had never been to a Holy Roller church before; don't know what you call it. So, I go in there and everybody's just worshiping, it's loud. There are all kinds of activities going on, and all I could think is, when he (the pastor) calls people to the altar, I said, "I got to go!" Nothing is going to distract me! I'm going straight down there, and I'm going to receive this. It’s what my mom had said that God had promised me that night. I went down and received Christ again, even though I had in the bedroom that night, with my Mom praying for me. I just wanted to make sure that this was sealed. And my life was changed.

   I'm telling you, I grew up as a little chubby kid with people, even my family, who said, "You will never make anything out of your life because you're not real smart. Your brother makes straight A's. He went to Texas Tech. He's on the Dean's Honors List. But you're not really college material. You'll do good to work with your hands." This is what I've been told all my life. They said, "You're creative," because I'm an artist. I like to create things.

   So what was happening in this transformation of being saved was that all of a sudden, I realized that I could do all things through Christ. All things! Everything that was said that I could not do, or was not material for, now I can do! And I took that literally. Also, later, at one point when I attended Beverly Hills Church, I was in a Christmas musical. I got the lead role there and the musical was televised. I met this beautiful woman who was one of the village people in the musical and I married her in Beverly Hills Baptist Church in 1981. As, I was a young Christian, and I heard about healing through Jesus Christ, I heard about raising the dead that we can lay hands on people, and they can be saved. At that time, my wife had a cousin who took a gun to his head and shot himself in Borger, Texas, however, he did not die. God had a plan. I said, "Donna, let's get on Southwest Airlines and go lay hands on him." We did it. We went there, I laid hands on him, in Jesus’ name, and he walked out of that hospital. And I said, "Wow, let's continue to live this way. Let's raise the dead."

   There was another person who had lupus. He had six months to live. He was living in a motor home because he had to stay close to the doctors. I said, "Well, let's go and lay hands on him." I laid hands on him, in the name of Jesus. The doctor said, "He doesn't have lupus." He's healed! Praise God! Is it this simple? Why do we make it so difficult? If we just have the faith of a child! But then time goes on in life, right? And you're trying to work this out, and trying to figure out exactly, what is God’s will for me? So, there is a scripture I wanted to share with you guys, and everybody knows it, Jeremiah 29:11.

   It says, "For I know the thoughts that I think towards you, saith the Lord, thoughts of peace, not of evil, to give you an expected end." Now that's the King James Version. Let's listen to the Amplified Bible. It says, the "expected end". It says, "For I know the plans and thoughts that I have for you," says the Lord, "plans for peace and well-being and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope." That's what I wanted, that night in March 24, 1979, when I was going to end it all. I did not have hope; I did not have a future. But, God gave this to me. No matter what my past was, it was all brand new that day. So, my wife and I, and other members of her family started a band back. She has a very talented family, they are guitar players, bass players, and Donna plays keyboards, songwriters, etc. So, we started traveling to churches, playing music and ministering. The band was called Latter Rain, at that time. I'm going to share with you a little about the ministry that God took us though. Now, this is all going on simultaneously because we were playing every Friday, Saturday for a long time. It was a lot of work for about 12 years. It really wore us out. But, we saw so many miracles through those services. We would go to churches and we would set it up. This was, “bash bam,” there was nothing was on your iPad. We had to actually bring in these heavy speakers and amplifiers and everything else and hundred-foot cables and all. Then set it all up. We were our own roadie, and we played music, and then after the music, and it never failed, there was always that last song. You know the last song where the spirit starts moving and you just keep playing the last chorus over and over again. Here we go, something's going on here and all of a sudden God takes me from singing, to a preaching. I could see people out there in need, and all of a sudden God would speak to me and say, Byron, this is not over. People are receiving the message. Bring them, call them out. Call them out right now. Call out the sick, call out the lost. Tell them to get down to the altar just like you did that day. Tell them to run down here. It was Jesus who was asking them, to come and see what he has for them, and we would continue to play as they came.

   The music continued and God was moving. People weren't paying attention and the music, but it was setting the right atmosphere for the Holy Spirit. We saw people get delivered from many bondages, people delivered from alcohol. During one particular altar call, I actually saw a snake that I thought was wrapped up around this woman's leg. And I thought, oh, what a horrible tattoo that woman has. And, I thought, that's terrible because she's going to live with that for the rest of her life. She came down and prayed for deliverance. I laid hands on her. She was convulsing and it scared me a little bit, but I knew that this was God working. We continued to pray and as she walked off, that snake was gone. So, God showed me in the spirit what was going on with these people. We would play for two hours, then for another two hours we would call people out for prayer. At the end of the day, we were worn out when the service is over. But it was so such a wonderful feeling. To me, you could not replace it, it was priceless.

   In 1992, we met an evangelist from Canada named Brian Manske. He was holding a revival in DeSoto, Texas. Our band, Latter Rain, was doing the music at this particular church. A man there introduced me to this man of God. He had been preaching ever since he was five or six years old. This man was a big, well known, Canadian evangelist, ran around with Kathryn Kuhlman for a while and God placed them in my path, the right place for the plan that he had for me.

   God knew I needed a spiritual father. The Lord said, "It's time to grow Byron. I’m going get somebody in there to help teach you, and help you grow spiritually. Because now you're 30 something years old and the little baby Christian has gone now. Now we got to grow up to be a man of God." Never heard of the, “Man of God.” What is a man of God? We all try to be a man of God. To me, a man of God is somebody who stands for the principles and standards about what the Bible says about everything. And that's a lot to learn. God presented Brian to me and we became friends, we became best friends. We started traveling together and we started preaching the gospel together as a band, and he was the preacher.

   We started a storefront church in the late 90’s in Duncanville, and we didn't know how we were going to do it. I said, "How?" I said, "Well, let's get some wood and we'll make a little platform. We'll put it there and we'll stand on it and we'll put the word Church on the door and then we'll start telling people to come." There you go. How are we going to do the music? I said, well, we got guitars and drums, we have it. We can do it. We've done that before. So, we held church services for several years. Then, we moved to the old Methodist church in Red Oak and continued there.

   There was something I learned from that man of God, and that was praise and worship. I learned the authority that God has given me. Here's a man, who grew up preaching since he was five or six, who can tell you any translation of any verse. It was all just right there. God gave that great teacher to me. So, today, when I was telling you that in Jeremiah, it says at the end of it, He gives you an expected end, and as the other translation says, to give you a future and hope.

   This is what I mean, because I couldn't get everything from what I read out of the Bible and I would watch preaching on TV, God put before me this man of God, so I'm just going to learn from him. Isn't that amazing what God does? So, we had the services and there was one thing in the service that I haven't seen in a long time. As a worship leader; Brian and I had a spiritual connection during the service. I could look at Brian; and I know we're on the last song, but, I knew that look. I would continue to follow the Holy Spirit until the work was done that day in the service.

   Okay, so we’re allowing the Spirit move there. People started coming down to the altar. Just everything changes. There's none of the agendas that they have today. I just don't understand some of them. How do I say this? I just believe that you shouldn't stop the moving of the Holy Spirit to do announcements. Sorry guys. When the spirit is flowing, you need to follow the leadership of the Holy Spirit. And that's the kind of relationship that we had, knowing that we both were willing to allow God to lead. And so, for years and years, we were doing this together, and at the same time, I was holding down a job at the same time, right?

   So, I had to decide, do I continue this ministry, or do I go into a career? Do I cut my hair and go into a career, I had really long hair back then, or do I just trust in God, and probably make a decision that would change my life, because it did. I began to put my time into my career, and it did kind of keep me out of the ministry for a little bit of time. But, I tested God to see, what can I do, career-wise? I began working for my dad. I was doing insurance adjusting, and working at Ryder Truck. I was really good working with my hands, but God gave me an opportunity to work with the Lord. Back in the late 90s, I worked for Microsoft for a little bit; just call center type of stuff. But, before that, I worked at Deloitte and Touché. This is one of the big three, big four, right? Auditors, consulting companies, I thought, “Lord, what can I do there?”The Lord said, “We’ll put you in asset management.”

   What's asset management? I don't know what that is, but God told me how to keep my mouth shut. He said, just walk in there, smile and listen and nod your head every now and then learn! I didn't know how to access Excel spreadsheets and all the other programs. I learned some things from Microsoft, which were server rebuilding and Microsoft Exchange 3.5. So, I went in there, and I'll make this short here, but, remember this, you can do all things through Christ Jesus who strengthens you. He'll give you the knowledge. If God opens a door for you to make more money, and I believe that we are Kings and Priests, and when you all see that we are Kings and priests, right? We're not paupers, God didn't make us paupers. So, I went into this career, ready to start advancing my career, so I can make more money, so that I can do more in the ministry. I just really wanted to do this. 

   So, long story short, I ended up being a manager over the IT Texas Practice for Deloitte and Touché’, which spread to the IT over Austin and Houston for Deloitte Consulting. The position I had required an MBA, guys, and God put me in that position, without college. I would have loved to go to college, but God had other plans for me. 

    I would love to just stop everything at my age right now, and go to college, I would love to. But it wasn't God's plan for me. Okay? He had those plans for other people, but not for me. So, I got laid off of my job in 2004. My wife also was laid off in 2005, and I said, "What do you want to do?" She said, "Let's go to the movies, we haven't done that in a while. Let's go buy a new car." We trusted God.


   I ended up going to work for ACS, Xerox, and a lot of outsourcing IPO companies. And the positions that were given to me were positions that did require a Master’s Degree in Business Administration or at least in Computer Science of some kind, or in Finance. So, I learned a lot about operations, and finance, and big corporations. I went from there to Standard Insurance in Portland, Oregon as a Senior Commodity Manager and then moved back to Dallas to work for British Telecom as a Global Category Manager with a spend approval of 50 million pounds. That's God. You don't go messing around 50 million pounds unless God has put you in authority, and has given you what you need in order to be trusted with that.

   People I have worked with, they're always talking about their college alma maters, and all their football teams, and where they went to college, and all this stuff they did in college. And it comes to me; I just say God is my hero. But, I did tell them about Jesus, I did. My boss in Standard Insurance in Portland, Oregon. He was a Christian man and on our one-on-one meetings that we had every other week, well, what did we do? We talked about business? No, we talked about Jesus. We talked about how we're going to be effective in this company, and how God is using us. Where am I today? So, all of this... What I wanted to tell you guys is that God has a plan. He has had a plan for you from the beginning of time. And guess what? That plan has not changed, it hasn't. We may have changed, but the plan has not. On March 24, 1979, I was going to end my life. God had a plan. He had a plan where I could escape from that. When I was going to go away from praise and worship a little bit, and do a career for a while, He had a plan for me. I could see my life-changing. I could see that I had changed my plans. But God's plan never changed, because he sees from the beginning and the end.

   Some people start thinking, "Well, that sounds like predestination, like Calvinism."You're just a chosen one.”They say, no matter what you're going to do, you're going to go to heaven. You're a chosen one, that's why you did what you did." But I know that not true. God wants us to live for today. He wants us to seek his face, seek his will, and understand he has a future for you, and a plan.

   One last thing and I'll wrap this up. In 2013, my friend Brian Manske died. I was in Oregon at the time. It tore me up, tore me to pieces. It was September 23rd, he had a brain tumor, and the next day it was Labor Day, so the doctors postponed the operation because of the holiday. The doctors were a day was too late, and Brian died. As I said, I was in Oregon and I already had a job lined up, to come back to Texas and get back in the ministry with him in 2013. I said, "God, what now? This is my mentor, my spiritual father. And whatever version of the Bible I need, he's got it. He has all the answers for me. What do I do?" He said, "Remember Elijah?” He said, you're it now. You're grown. You're not a baby child anymore in Christ. You've received a great gift from a man of God, so you can call yourself a man of God. Now go apply it, go and use it. Unbelievably, two years later, I get a brain bleed and I go into the hospital in an emergency situation. I was at work on call with a customer, and this horrible pain overcomes my brain.

   And I basically, put the phone down and started walking out. I was working for British telecom at the time. Everybody was in a meeting at about 9:00 in the morning, so no one is there where I was sitting. I was going to grab my car keys, get some Advil, and go home. A buddy in the hallway said, "Bud, you doing okay?" I said, "Yeah, I got a headache that is really bad." He said, "No, you look really bad. I'm taking you to the emergency room." So, there’s no telling what I was doing or how I looked. When I went to an emergency, they found that I had a big blood clot on the right side of my head, the size my hand. The doctor said, "If we don't go and open you up, probably within the next two hours, you're not going to make it." So, we went down, and finally got me into an ambulance, took me to Methodist hospital, on Colorado Blvd in Dallas. And what happened was this: I was laying there in the operating room... Remember, I know Jesus. I know God! I know to be absent from the body is to be a present with Jesus, with God. As I lay there and everybody's looking down at me, just kind of shaking their head. Going well, "We'll do the best we can." Right? But, what happened as I lay there, all of a sudden, a realization came over me that I was going to see Jesus. The One that I live for, ever since March 24, 1979. The one that had a plan for me ever since I was born. I'm going to meet him face to face. As I'm lying there, seeing all these instruments all over the place, people with masks, and they're just looking at me. They put this warm towel on me and I started shaking uncontrollably because the spirit of God entered in that odd way. I’m like, "Jesus! I'm ready, let's go! Come and take me!" And so I'm laying there and I think I went through the sinners' prayer, I don't know how many times. I wanted to make sure I covered all of my bases!

 

   I said, "Lord, forgive me for anything and everything. Whatever I might've done or didn't do." So, I went to sleep and woke up in recovery with all my loved ones. I told my beautiful wife over here, I said, "Believe it or not, when you're about to die and go to the presence of God, you don't think about family." I'm sorry. I love my wife. I love my children. I love my mom. I love everything. When you know Christ, and you know you're about to go into the presence of God, He is the only thing on your mind. He is all that’s on your mind. He is in the room with you. I know if I ever go through that again, which I'm not going to, or when Jesus comes back, or I die of being 130 years old, it will be whatever God promises; I know that's going to be a glorious, glorious day. And we will tremble because He is so holy.

   One thing I did learn through everything... And I'll just wrap this up, this last thing. What God has, this year, he's really put on my heart, is to learn purity, learn holiness, to be holy because He is holy. He can't be any holier! He can't be any less holy. He said, “I'm God, I don't change. I made a plan for you.” You want to get closer to Him? Become holier. And I don't mean self-righteous and that you're better than everybody else. I mean, this is between you and God. Not between you and your wife, or your friends, and your brothers, or anything like that. If you truly want to hear from God and get close to him, purify yourself. Let Him take the coal, and cleanse your lips, as the Word of God says. Say, "Lord, here I am." That realization has changed my life, and that's this next chapter is about that I'm going into.

   So that's my testimony folks. I hope it has helped you, maybe with some of the things you're walking in today, to know that God has a plan. He is real. He is everything. There's no doubt in my mind that He is God. He is who He says He is. I don't need anything else to convince me. Thank you.

 

Hearing His Voice Testimony

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